Market modifiers: a tuition increase loophole?

Date Posted: January 8, 2015

Tuition in Alberta is regulated by the Government of Alberta and will only increase as much as the Consumer Price Index (CPI) states, which is an increase of 2.2 percent for the coming year. 

Market modifiers are a way of setting tuition based on the perceived market value of the degree. Recently, Alberta post-secondary institutions could apply to have up to three programs have their tuition costs set by market modifiers.

Twenty-five out of 26 proposals were approved and some institutions are seeing a spike of a 71 percent increase in one year.

What does this mean at RDC?
The Students’ Association is pleased RDC did not submit any market modifier proposals to the Ministry of Innovation and Advanced Education. Such proposals could have drastically increased tuition for some programs. While current RDC students will not be directly impacted by the market modifier approvals, many students in Red Deer may end up transferring to institutions and programs facing rising tuition costs.

Students’ Association President Bailey Daines is concerned about off-setting the costs of post-secondary education on the backs of students through a tuition increase loophole. In 2010 the government promised market modifiers would be a one-time only adjustment.

“Tuition is regulated in order to protect students from drastic and unpredictable increases,” said Daines. “While Red Deer College students will not be directly impacted by the approval of market modifiers, students should be concerned about the Ministry not keeping its promise to students. It is our belief these actions may be undermining the tuition cap in Alberta.”

With oil prices plunging, the Students’ Association is concerned the post-secondary sector will again face budget cuts, when students are still feeling the impact of the last cuts.

“The Students’ Association hopes that the government will prioritize post-secondary education in the upcoming budget and recognize post-secondary attainment as a guaranteed return investment in Alberta’s economy,” said Daines. “Regardless of the budget, we hope RDC will continue to not utilize funding loopholes such as market modifiers to fund the institution through tuition increases from students.”

What are student leaders doing about this?
• Alberta Students’ Executive Council (ASEC) — which represents over 160,000 students with member students’ associations such as NAIT, Lethbridge College, SAIT, Medicine Hat College, RDC — was promised by the Ministry in 2010 that market modifiers were to be used as a one-time tuition increase for certain programs. 

• The ASEC executive was made aware this summer the Government intended to bring back market modifiers. ASEC started speaking out against this topic in the media.

• At RDC, the Students’ Association President Bailey Daines met with RDC President Joel Ward who verbally promised RDC would not submit any proposals this year for market modifiers. At the Students’ Association’s request, this promise was followed up with written confirmation.

• ASEC executive attended a meeting in October with the Ministry of Innovation and Advanced Education. It was communicated to Minister Don Scott that students are against market modifiers and many students’ associations and unions were not being properly consulted in the decision making at their institutions. 

• Minister Scott attended an ASEC conference in November where he stated he was committed to ensuring students were properly consulted and considered in the decision-making process. This was followed by a push back of the date when a decision was going to be made on approval of proposals.

• These consultations never took place and we were caught off guard by the December 22 announcement. ASEC sent out a press release on the matter, followed by several media interviews including CTV Edmonton, Global News and several radio stations.

Want to know more?
If you have any comments, questions, ideas on market modifiers or rising tuition costs, the way post-secondary is being funded, come and talk to your Students’ Association executive anytime!

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